Cardinals home opener to be as much like the norm as possible

The Clydesdales again will march around Busch Stadium at the home opener Thursday.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals‘ home opener Thursday won’t be exactly like those of years gone by, but it will be as close as it can given attendance limitations and other health and safety protocols in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Clydesdales? Check.

Red jackets? Check, albeit not at home plate. Cardinals Hall of Famers will be recognized in the center field batter’s eye.

2021 Cardinals motorcade around the field? Check.

Of course, the health and safety protocols will include attendance that is limited at the start of the season to 32% capacity, or roughly 14,500 fans, as well as required masks, socially distanced seating in pods, mobile-only ticketing, cashless transactions and designated entry gates.

Fans were replaced by cardboard cutouts in the abbreviated 2020 season. The return of fans Thursday will happen 544 days after their last appearance at Busch.

First pitch from Adam Wainwright to the Milwaukee Brewers‘ leadoff batter is at 3:15 p.m. Gates open at 1 p.m.

Bally Sports Midwest coverage will begin at 1:30 p.m. with Cardinals Live pregame, which will encompass the pregame ceremonies starting at 2:30:

2:30 — Appearance by the Budweiser Clydesdales.

2:33 — Tribute to Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Bob Gibson, who passed away in 2020.

2:35 — Introduction of Cardinals Hall of Famers in center field batter’s eye.

2:38 — Salute to Cardinals Hall of Famer Mike Shannon from KMOX radio booth.

2:40 — Introduction of Cardinals Chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. at home plate.

2:41 — Introduction of the 2021 St. Louis Cardinals via motorcade.

2:53 — Introduction of the Milwaukee Brewers.

2:57 — Moment of silence.

2:58 — National Anthem performed from center field batter’s eye by Dr. Shephali Wulff, an infectious disease specialist with SSM Health in St. Louis.

3:00 — Cardinals Opening Day video.

3:02 — Ceremonial first pitch by Cardinals Hall of Fame third baseman Scott Rolen to new Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado.

3:15 — First pitch.

Dan McLaughlin and Brad Thompson will call the game on Bally Sports Midwest with Jim Hayes and Scott Warmann reporting. Erica Weston will host from the network’s Ballpark Village studio with analyst Rick Horton.

Tentative plans for the pregame show include player comments on the return of fans to Busch; a feature on Arenado; a feature on Wainwright; a feature on Brock and Gibson; recognition of the late Bobby Plager, Joe Cunningham and Ken Reitz; highlights from past home openers; live reports from Hayes and Warmann, and more.